Friday, April 16, 2010

A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible (Zondervan)

Editors: A. Philip Brown II, Bryan W. Smith, Richard J. Goodrich, Albert L. Lukaszewski

Format: European Leather, Black

List Price: $74.99 (USD) Book & Bible Cover Size: Large
Page Count: 2256

Paper Edge Description: Plain
Size: 7.1 wide x 10 high x 2.4 deep in. | 180 wide x 254 high x deep 61 mm
Weight: 4.13 lb | 1871 gms

Recently I was presented with a beautiful copy of A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible (RHGB) in Fine-Grain Black European Leather which comes in a nice paper box. The RHGB is published by Zondervan and edited by A. P. Brown II and B. W. Smith (Hebrew Bible); R. J. Goodrich and A. L. Lukaszewski (Greek New Testament). The two parts, previously published separately and well received, have now been brought together in one handsome volume produced in leather.

The text of the Hebrew part is based on the Leningrad Codex (L) and there are no text-critical notes in this part. Instead, on the bottom section of every page are glosses meant to aid the user in reading the Hebrew Bible. Note that these are not definitions, only glossses to suggest to the reader the particular sense(s) that seems to be emloyed in a given context. The glosses, according to the introduction (p. xviii-xviv) are based on The Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) and Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament (BDB), and in some cases ”alternative lexical sources.”

As for the Greek New Testament part, the printed text, according to the introduction (pp. 9-10), has developed in two stages. In the mid-eighties, Edward Goodrick and John Kohlenberger III compiled the text that underlie the New International Version (NIV). That text deviates from UBS3/4 at points where the NIV translators had made different textual choices. The text then went through a second stage as Gordon Fee went over it in the 90’s and adjusted it according to decisions made by the The New International Version (TNIV) committee. This is the text used in A Reader’s Greek New Testament.

For convenience sake, however, variations from the UBS text are noted in a textual apparatus, below the section with glosses for the Greek words. A quick perusal gives at hand that the textual apparatus not only contains the deviating UBS variants, but there are also other significant variants, although the attesting manuscript witnesses are not listed, but rather ”Some Mss Add” or ”Earlier Mss,” etc. A third feature of this apparatus is the indication of Old Testament citations.

The definitions used for the Greek glosses were based on the word lists of Warren Trenchard’s Complete Vocabularly Guide to the Greek New Testament (intro, p. 10), and each was systematically checked to ensure the suitability to the particular context. Thus, in a number of cases, the glosses had to be revised in consultation with standard lexica.

At this point I have little to complain about. One lack that suprises me, in light of the (probable) high cost of production, is the quality of the bookbinding. In comparison with my NIV Study Bible that has rounded corners and a binding that gives a rather solid impression, the new RHGB, an even thicker tome, has somewhat thinner and softer cover without rounded corners, and the leather in the corners already sticks out a bit from inside the binding. I see a potential risk that the binding will not last as long as the rest of the book, technically speaking, although one can always keep it in the beautiful paper box, and/or use it carefully. The binding of my copy of A Reader’s Hebrew Bible in Italian Duo-Tone also does not have rounded corners, but there is a seam around the edge of the cover, and this binding looks more durable to me.

You can order A Reader’s Hebrew and Greek Bible directly from Zondervan here (price: $74.99).


  1. Thanks, I have made the additions.

  2. I picked up the individual editions at SBL this past year even though I knew this was on it's way. We'll see if I made the right decision!

    One note, the individual Greek reader does have the UBS readings in the footer.

  3. Rick, thanks, I have removed that sentence from the main post.

  4. So as a Greek text this is basically a revision of the NA/UBS text. I wonder whether there are general features to the non-NA/UBS features of this text.

  5. Tommy
    Thanks for the review. I'm curious about the corners. Are the corners of the text block rounded? Or are the page cornes square, too?
    Sounds wierd, but this one detail may determine whether I spring for this or not.

  6. I have the Hebrew Bible version, and love it. I can now read at a speed of three or four (or more) times faster, not having to look up so many words. It's worth its weight in gold.

    I researched numerous reviews & comparisons of the Zondervan vs the UBS NT reader, and I purchased the USB version. It is also excellent. If looking up infrequent words drags you down, definitely pick it up. Also worth its weight in gold.